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The coveted Old Leather Helmet is again up for the taking this Saturday when the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the sixth annual Chick-Fil-A kickoff game held in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
With television contracts more lucrative in college football, the concept of neutral game sites has become increasingly more popular. Even though games situated on campus are what set collegiate athletics apart from its professional counterpart, kickoff games to start the season are typically blockbuster games featuring top teams squaring off.
The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, now promoted as the “Daytona 500 of College Football,” has started a trend. Although neutral site games to start the season have been tried before in places like New York’s Meadowlands, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl was the first of the modern era. Its success has inspired other cities to host similar games.
This year, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington Texas will host LSU versus TCU in the Cowboys Classic, and Reliant Stadium in Houston will host Oklahoma State versus Mississippi State in the Advocare Texas Kickoff. Within the coming years cities such as Charlotte, Kansas City, MO and Orlando may host big name neutral site matchups of their own.
Strength-of-schedule plays a role when it comes time to deciding between playing at home or somewhere else in college football. Alabama is a prime example and will make its third appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff this year and will return next year to face West Virginia. The Crimson Tide also played in the Cowboys Classic last year against Michigan to open the 2012 season.
“When you play a good opponent in the first game, it really helps enhance your offseason program — your spring practice, your summer conditioning, because players are looking forward to playing an outstanding opponent early,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Out of the six years the game has been running, 3 of the teams that made appearances in the game went on to contend in the SEC Championship game.
This year the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game’s projected total team payout is $5 million, which is higher than 24 bowl games. Also, according to USA Today, “the game endows a $50, 000 scholarship for each school, provides prime-time exposure on ESPN and creates ‘a bowl atmosphere in a one-day event’ with concerts and other fan activities outside the stadium.” The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game has also generated $195.4 million in economic impact to the metro Atlanta area since its conception.
The success of the kickoff game has catapulted the strength of the Chick-fil-A Bowl that is now considered to be apart of “New Year’s Six,” that include the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Cotton bowls. Those bowls will be the sites for the semifinals on a rotating basis, for the new College Football Playoffs that begin January of 2015.
The Kickoff game, alongside the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the soon-to-be opened in 2014 College Football Hall of Fame has not only added to the thriving city of Atlanta, but has made it clear as to why it is now the nations unofficial college football capital.
By: Myles J. Robinson
With the recent release of the new AP Top 25 Poll the 2013-14 college football season is officially upon us. Numerous athletic programs have been in the national news lately spending big bucks off the field.
Recently, James Maddox wrote an interesting post about the top college programs on Twitter in various sports. I decided to take James’ article a step further focusing on the Twitter presence of the head coaches running the nation’s Top 25 Football programs. Below are some interesting notes from these coaches:
- 10 coaches in the AP Top 25 Poll have verified accounts:
- Stanford’s David Shaw (@CoachDavidShaw)
- Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin (@CoachSumlin)
- Louisville’s Charlie Strong (@CharlieStrongUL)
- Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly)
- LSU’s Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles)
- Texas’ Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown)
- Nebraska’s Bo Pelini (@BoPelini)
- UCLA’s Jim Mora (@UCLACoachMora)
- Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (@CoachFitz51)
- USC’s Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin)
- Of those that University of Georgia’s Mark Richt follows, 85% are high school football recruits
- Louisville’s Charlie Strong follows Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M
- Nebraska’s Bo Pelini shows his personality and off-the-field hobbies by following Larry the Cable Guy, TaylorMade Golf and the Cleveland Indians
With the dawn of the new season, it comes as no surprise that the two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide is sitting atop the AP Poll. Ohio State, ranked second, is an early preseason favorite to join the Tide in the BCS National Title game later this year. While many coaches are leveraging social media as an extra recruiting tool, the nation’s top two coaches, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, have chosen to refrain from using Twitter.
On the other hand, some coaches like LSU’s Les Miles have taken to Twitter and built an online, national brand. Coach Miles tops my list (see below) of college football head coaching personalities, boasting over 100,000 Twitter followers. With over 95,000 followers, Brian Kelly currently has the number two spot following Notre Dame’s near perfect season last year.
Twitter’s Top 10 Most Followed College Football Head Coaches (as of 8/19/2013)
|Head Coach||School||Twitter Handle||Number of Followers|
|2. Brian Kelly||Notre Dame||@CoachBrianKelly||95,422|
|3. Mark Richt||Georgia||@MarkRicht||72,516|
|4. Bo Pelini||Nebraska||@BoPelini||50,250|
|5. Will Muschamp||Florida||@CoachWMuschamp||44,493|
|6. Kevin Sumlin||Texas A&M||@CoachSumlin||39,263|
|7. Mack Brown||Texas||@UT_MackBrown||35,156|
|8. Mike Gundy||Oklahoma State||@CoachGundy||31,666|
|9. Charlie Strong||Louisville||@CharlieStrongUL||31,177|
|10. Lane Kiffin||Southern California||@Lane_Kiffin||30,732|
To echo the words of former NFL coach Herm Edwards “You play to win the game!” In social media the game of engagement is won with contagious content. Klout is a popular social media tool that rates online influence on a scale of 1-100, with a high number signaling great engagement on various social media networks. Below, I took a look at the Top 25 head coaches for this coming year to discover who has the most influence off the field.
Twitter’s Most Influential College Football Head Coaches (as of 8/19/2013)
|Head Coach||School||Twitter Handle||Klout Score|
|1. Les Miles||LSU||@LSUCoachMiles||81|
|2. Lane Kiffin||Southern California||@Lane_Kiffin||80|
|3. Kevin Sumlin||Texas A&M||@CoachSumlin||69|
|4. Mack Brown||Texas||@UT_MackBrown||66|
|Mike Gundy||Oklahoma State||@CoachGundy||66|
|Brian Kelly||Notre Dame||@CoachBrianKelly||66|
|5. Will Muschamp||Florida||@CoachWMuschamp||65|
|6. Pat Fitzgerald||Northwestern||@CoachFitz51||63|
|7. Bo Pelini||Nebraska||@BoPelini||62|
Recently during the College World Series, Miles congradulated the LSU Baseball Team on a successful season, signaling to many Tigers fans his genuine love for the University. His post was retweteed over 300 times as a result. Les Miles recently discussed his take on Twitter at SEC Media Day: “Here is what’s happening. Somebody gave me the magic. They said there’s 500 million on Instagram…there’s 3 billion on Facebook. These are phenomena that are not just youthful…it’s an amazing thing. What we really are trying to do is educate and give [our football players] their brand and the responsibility that they have to understand that this is a media outlet.”
Coach Les Miles is one of few coaches in the country who effectively capitalizes on his brand equity. One of Miles’ most engaging posts came on March 18 when he posted a YouTube link of the LSU Football team doing the Harlem Shake, a viral dance that swept the nation prompting brands, celebrities and athletic teams alike to join in the video frenzy. Miles’s single tweet that evening has since been shared over 1,300 times and “favorited” another 376 times.
In a world where 140 characters has proved detrimental to many college athletes, it is great to watch those on the field who leverage social channels in a positive manner. Considering Les’ own pull in the Twitterverse, I think we all can take a brand lesson from Coach Miles’ playbook.
Whether student-athletes should be allowed to receive full cost of attendance (“COA”) scholarships has been a frequent topic of discussion in the college sports world over the past few years. First, an antitrust lawsuit brought in 2006 by former college basketball and football players—White v. NCAA—asked the courts to allow full cost of attendance scholarships. Although the case settled, it did not result in changes to the NCAA’s scholarship rules. Then, the issue appeared to be settled nearly two years ago when the NCAA Board of Directors approved a proposal to allow universities to give student-athletes $2000 stipends on top of their athletic scholarships. But the proposal never went into effect after more than 160 Division I members voted to override its implementation.
Now, a current bill winding its way through the California legislative process (assembly Bill 475b) seeks to end this debate for certain California universities. And not only does the bill require full cost of attendance athletic scholarships for certain athletes: it also requires that athletic scholarships be guaranteed for five years and that a “full” athletic scholarship include a stipend.
Before getting into the details of the new bill, a refresher on California’s Student Athlete Bill of Rights is in order. The Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, which was passed last year, requires California universities making at least $10,000,000 in annual income from the sale of athletics-related media rights to continue providing scholarships to athletes who suffer career ending injuries or who exhaust their athletics eligibility before they graduate. Assembly Bill 475b proposes that the $10,000,000 per year threshold be increased to $20,000,000 per-year and include money made from licensing fees (for things such as video games, jersey sales, etc.), not just the sale of media rights.
For now, this would be an insignificant change. The only California universities making $10,000,000 per year from media rights are Cal, UCLA, USC, and Stanford. And, due to the Pac-12’s new media deals, these universities are also making $20,000,000 per year from media rights and licensing fees. So, this amendment would not affect who the law applies to. It only gives other California universities (San Diego State, Fresno St, etc.) more of a buffer from having the law apply to them.
The important changes are Assembly Bill 475b’s scholarship-related amendments. First, the bill would require all athletic scholarships to be guaranteed for five years, or until the completion of the student-athlete’s eligibility, as long as the athlete is in good standing with the school and continues participating in his or her sport. This is a big change in the way scholarships are usually awarded. Currently, NCAA members are allowed, but not required, to offer multi-year scholarships. In the year and a half since the NCAA began allowing multi-year scholarships, the vast majority of athletic scholarships are still awarded for one year and are renewable at the school’s discretion. It is also important to note that this provision would apply to all athletic scholarships, not just full athletic scholarships. So it would apply to scholarships awarded in sports like baseball and track where partial scholarships are the norm.
Second, the bill would require that all full athletic scholarships cover a university’s full cost of attendance. Pursuant to NCAA rules, a full athletic scholarship only covers tuition, room and board, and books. This leaves a gap of around $3,000 between the value of a full athletic scholarship and the full cost of attendance at most schools. For example, the yearly cost of tuition and fees, room and board, and books at Stanford is $57,362. But, according to its own calculations, the total cost of attendance at Stanford is $60,749. This leaves a difference of $3,387 between the value of a full athletic scholarship and the total cost of attendance. And this number does not include transportation to and from a student’s home, which varies by student. When transportation is included it pushes the difference closer to $4,000. Assembly Bill 475b would require that Stanford cover this difference for all of its athletes receiving full athletic scholarships (football, basketball, volleyball, etc.).
The bill does not stop with mandating cost of attendance scholarships. It also provides that all full athletic scholarships must include an additional $3,600 stipend. Called a “student athlete participation stipend,” this is money that is intended to be used for expenses that fall outside of those included in the definition of cost of attendance. Stanford’s cost of attendance calculation includes amounts for clothing, toiletries, incidentals, and dorm activities. So, an athlete receiving a full athletic scholarship could use the stipend to cover expenses he has beyond these categories.
If the bill is signed into law, it sets the stage for a major fight between California and the NCAA, as it would require UCLA, USC, Cal, and Stanford to violate NCAA rules. With all of the criticism currently coming its way, the NCAA is likely rooting for the bill to die in order to avoid that showdown.
Goodbye, pen and paper. Sayonara, endless hours of crunching numbers by hand.
In an electronic-centered society, why not fuse technology and sports? Especially when its so addicting to let’s say, college students.
Over 170 college programs, including Duke basketball and the University of Texas football program, are now using the Mobile Player Assessment Solution application called Sportsboard during practices, recruiting visits and games. The application allows coaches to gather and evaluate Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) for each athlete. At the end of each practice or game the individual numbers are uploaded to a server and within minutes can be sent to each players mobile device or iPad so they can see their strengths and weaknesses from that day.
Sportsboard eliminates the idea that coaches have to slave away over clipboards and manually enter numbers into computers just to sit down later to look at everything they typed in. Instead, everything they need is in one program.
“Duke had two guys on the sidelines watching the practice game and they were calling out what was happening on the court. They had a guy use a clipboard basically tallying all the stats for all the players as they were happening. When the practice was over they were entering all the stats onto a spreadsheet and they would compute each players efficiency points ratings…we took a 2-3 hour process and made it into a 5 minute process, which ultimately enabled them to use the report in a much more timely way” said Gregg Jacobs, founder and CEO of West Shore Technologies, the company that produce SportsBoard.
The program, which has been called “the future of basketball practice’”by ESPN, is applicable to more than just football and basketball. SportsBoard currently has applications for twelve different sports that include: Soccer, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ice Hockey, Baseball and more, each one easily accessible through an application store, Jacobs says that “The teams that adopt this technology sooner are going to have a competitive advantage when it comes to putting the best talent on the court or on the field. Ultimately they are going to use data over gut instinct.”
Besides working with universities, SportsBoard is being used in over a dozen camps this summer, such as Stanford’s baseball and lacrosse camps.
“What we are impacting on camps is so much bigger than what we are doing in terms of impacting college coaches for recruiting or season. We are enabling these camp operators to assess the player give them a rating, video them…we are enabling them to completely professionalize what they did on paper or what they weren’t doing before” said Jacobs.
Overtime, Sportsboard will revolutionize sports in way no one would have imagined 15 years ago. Sorry clipboards, your time has passed.
You’re in the stadium watching your favorite team and you try to call a friend about the amazing play that just happened in front of you and…nothing.
How many times have you been denied cell phone service in a stadium because there are just too many people and not enough service capacity?
The University of Arizona has decided to follow the technology trend by signing a contract with Boingo Wireless to improve cellular voice and data connectivity within Arizona Stadium. The current cellular coverage in the stadium was made to only handle either calls or SMS texts for 56,000 people. Arizona Stadium has recently been renovated, including an expansion to 57,800.
“We are excited for what the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) will do to enhance the game day experience for our fans. It’s important to us that we evolve and improve, and the DAS helps us to keep pace with the technology needs of our customers,” Greg Byrne, University of Arizona Vice President for Athletics, said in a Boingo press release.
The new partnering will not just make Wildcat fans happy but will also be great marketing for the school. Fans will be able post updates and pictures quicker without having to wait to leave the stadium ultimately helping the school with branding.
“Technology is such a critical component now to higher education and to student life,” Michele Norin, UA chief information officer told UA@Work. “To not stay ahead of that or to not stay current is a risk we do not want to take here at the UA.”
The antennas will be placed in phases starting with Arizona Stadium and will eventually cover all of campus, aiding in increasing the security network. This project is just one of many in the University’s 10-year Network Master Plan.
Other schools that have installed similar antennas include the University of Alabama and the University of Michigan, both of which are partnered with AT&T and Verizon.
Those who follow me on a regular basis know that my book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is due out in September. At that time I’ll be embarking on a book tour, where I hope to meet many of you! First though, I need your help….
For those who don’t know, publishers don’t generally finance book tours (unless perhaps your a NYT bestseller, but I’m not quite there yet). Thus, I’ll be financing this tour entirely myself (hotels, air fare or gas, etc). After spending the last two years traveling the country to speak to sports management and law programs on my own dime, my travel budget is fairly depleted, so I’m turning to you all for help via a IndieGoGo campaign.
I’ve tried to offer rewards that appeal to the average fan, those of you who follow me for advice on working in sports, as well as those who have come to me for advice on writing a nonfiction book proposal and pursuing a literary agent. Hopefully I’ve offered some appealing rewards, but if there’s anything you can think of that’s not listed, feel free to email me and propose something else! I’m open to anything reasonable.
Some of the rewards include:
- Autographed copy of the book with a personal dedication
- Cover letter and resume review
- Phone call or Skype with me to talk about your career path
- 6 months of career coaching
- Review of your blog
- Review of your non-fiction book proposal
There’s MUCH more! Head over to my IndieGoGo page to view all the rewards, and feel free to contact me if there’s something you’re looking for that’s not there!
You can also learn more about the book here.
The Athletics Construction Roundup is a monthly series on construction of athletics facilities. Each month I’ll provide you with a list of athletic construction projects in progress (and recently completed) across the country, including details on budget and scope of the project.
Texas A&M University
After utilizing them on a trial basis for three games last season, Texas A&M is in the process of purchasing cooling benches for the sideline of Kyle Field. The benches are produced exclusively by Athletic Recovery Zone, a Florida based company.
University of Utah
Utah football is moving into its new $32 million facility. For over a year, the program was housed in trailers.
University of Nebraska
The university’s Center for Brian, Biology and Behavior opened this month and is housed in Memorial Stadium. One of the center’s main projects is a $3 million dollar device designed to be used on the sidelines to track concussions.
The turf field at the stadium has been replaced and will feature “Tom Osborne Field” on it for the first time in 14 years.
The athletic department has also asked the Board of Regents to consider a $20.4 million plan for a soccer and tennis complex.
University of Michigan
The athletic department is investing its $8.9 million budget surplus into athletic projects. The investment will help outset the increase of the projected costs of new projects.
Work has begun in earnest on Duke’s $100 million, long term facility plan. The current construction is on practice fields for lacrosse and soccer.
Wichita State University
The Shockers men’s basketball team will receive a locker room renovation for the first time in ten years after an anonymous donation. The new locker room will feature the program’s regional championship trophy and other symbols from its Final Four appearance.
The arena will also receive a center-hung scoreboard and an additional 18 smaller video screens.
Air Force Academy
Falcon Stadium may go through a $50- $65 million renovation according to pictures posted by an assistant football coach on Twitter and subsequent comments by the athletic director. Current plans are just conceptual and not architecturally sound.
Washington State University
Athletic Director Bill Moos provides an in-depth look at the development of facilities in this Q&A.
University of Minnesota
A six to eight year, $190 million master plan has been unveiled. The first two phases include upgrades to the football facility and a multiple purpose building which will include practice space for a number of sports.
Portland State University
Athletic Director Torre Chisholm talks about the government impact on college athletic facilities in this interview.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
After a one year hiatus to play on campus, the men’s basketball will return to downtown and U.S. Cellular Arena. The $14,000 per game rental fee is approximately 17% lower than the previous agreement.
University of Houston
As a result of stadium construction Houston will play its football games this season off-campus, at three different venues.
Boise State University
Despite considering plans that included a blue hardwood to match its iconic football turf, Boise State has unveiled a relatively tame court design at Taco Bell Arena.
University of Richmond
As a part of an ongoing renovation project, four 15 x 32 video boards will be added to the Robbins Center. The boards will be the largest in the A-10.
Louisiana Tech University
Louisiana Tech has spent $45,000 on rebranding its football and basketball facilities with Conference USA logos. The cost of changing conference logos in facilities is an often overlooked aspect of realignment.
University of Alabama
Construction of a $14.6 million media center is underway at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The facility will be home to three media properties, including Crimson Tide Productions.
University of Nevada
Members of the Wolf Pack football team will see a $100,000 locker renovation when they return to campus this fall. Head Coach Brian Polian says that previous incarnation of the locker room resembled a high school’s facility.
University of Arkansas
Ground has been broken on the previously announced baseball and track facility. The facility will cost $9.6 million.
University of Oregon
The $68 million Football Performance Center has been officially unveiled. Among other lavish amenities, the facility includes a barber shop.
In case you missed it- Facilities projects previously mentioned on the site
We updated you on Cal baseball.
USC has won a deal to own the LA Coliseum.
Those financial revelations about Cal’s football stadium aren’t that shocking.
Luke Mashburn is a Game Day Operations Specialist at Kennesaw State University. You can follow him on Twitter @L_Mashburn.
You may remember our April piece on the facilities projects at Cal’s Evans Diamond. Today, we take a look back at those projects and the impact that they had on the attendance of Bears baseball.
Cal officials are calling the recent facility upgrades at Evans Diamond, and the entire 2013 baseball season, a success. Despite college baseball’s well documented struggles, anytime that an athletic program can double ticket revenue from the previous year, it is a big deal. Cal baseball did just that with $89,187 in ticket revenue in 2013, a 101 percent over 2012.
As one would expect, the large jump in revenue is the direct result of a dramatic increase in attendance. After the lights were installed, one month into the season, seven games drew over 1,000 fans. In the three seasons prior, only three games broke that threshold. The first night game in school history drew a record 2,133 fans.
Of course, nights games allow a broader range of fans, including those with jobs and young students, to attend games. The team and Head Coach David Esquer were able to see a difference. “The atmosphere at our games immediately changed. The games became an event, and I saw more families at our games than ever before. Seeing the energy that the young kids provided the stadium was great,” he says.
In addition to the lights, a videoboard was installed at Evans Diamond. As the board features fixed signage, sponsorship will be an additional revenue stream for the program. While those numbers have not been released, it is safe to assume that sponsorship revenue could double as well.
This increase in revenue is unprecedented. As you may remember, the Cal baseball team had its funding cut back in 2011. After extraordinary fundraising efforts, the program was reinstated and is now enjoying a new level of success.
On her first day on the job, Rutgers controversial new athletic director Julie Hermann posted an open letter to her student-athletes on ScarletKnights.com. Accused of having verbally abused student-athletes she coached at University of Tennessee nearly two decades ago, who reportedly delivered her a letter outlining their concerns shortly before she moved out of coaching and into administration, this part of her letter to Rutgers’ student-athletes is particularly interesting:
One of my primary goals as your athletic director is to create a best-in-class student-athlete care system. We are committed to developing programs to support both your athletic and your academic pursuits, which includes establishing procedures to ensure that you can always voice any issues or concerns you might have.
You can read the full letter here.
Today, Kansas Athletics and IMG College announced a new long-term television partnership with Time Warner Cable Sports. The deal will see over 300 hours of original programming air annually, including live games and “extensive non-game programming solely focused on the Jayhawks,” according to a press release.
In addition to live programming, non-game programming will be available via video on-demand to Time Warner Cable customers around the country. Regionally, Time Warner Cable Metro Sports, will carry live games, including football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer and track and field events.
“When Time Warner Cable Sports approached us with this concept, we knew, if done right, it could greatly benefit Kansas Athletics and our fan base,” Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger said. “With more Kansas Athletics programming available throughout the state and to Time Warner cable customers throughout the country than ever has been before, Jayhawk fans will have more opportunities to catch our sports in action. We are eager to work with Time Warner Cable Metro Sports to bring this exciting concept to life.”
Non-game programming will include, “pre- and post-game shows for Jayhawk football and men’s basketball games, a weekly “magazine-style” show, Hawk Talk Radio Show simulcasts, a social media-centered show driven by fans, live press conferences, a Jayhawk Rewind highlight show, a quarterly Jayhawk Legends series and quarterly University of Kansas academic specials,” according to the press release.